Our Infertility Journey
OUR INFERTILITY JOURNEY
Growing up, I was always told that if you even looked at a penis …you would get pregnant. I never knew it would be this hard…
Infertility is still somewhat of a taboo topic, but it’s certainly not uncommon. If you are one of the 1 in 4 woman suffering from it, or the 1 in 4 pregnancies that end in miscarriage …then you understand how difficult it can be on so many levels of your life. For me, after my loss, I couldn’t concentrate on anything creative & I lost touch with something I loved very much…my friends & my blog. I stopped communicating with you guys because I was going through something so traumatic I didn’t know how to express anything else. I want to make my husband a daddy & give him a family & I want to have a baby & be a mommy more than anything in the world, so to say this is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced is an incredible understatement. I wanted this to be my first blog post back to let you know why I’ve been gone so long & I timed it in honor of International Miscarriage Awareness Month and October 15th…the day we light candles at 7pm local time all over the world in remembrance of the babies we’ve lost in pregnancy.
I have learned so much through this process & everything I’ve been through that I could deliver my own baby at this point. I wanted to share my story so anyone going through this wouldn’t feel alone, like they didn’t have anyone to talk or turn to. When I started suffering from this, all my girlfriends were getting pregnant left and right…it was straight raining babies for them. They didn’t understand what I was going through & I didn’t really let them in because I was embarrassed, ashamed and didn’t want them to feel like they had to hide their happiness because of my sadness. And even though it consumed me …it was a sore subject that had made me really uncomfortable to talk about, until now…
OUR FIRST LOSS
I met my soulmate and the man I knew I was going to have babies with at 37. When we fell in love I said to myself …”this is the kind of love that makes babies” so I wasn’t worried about age or anything else. We got married 6 months after we met because we “knew” and said we’d start trying for a family in a year or two.
I took really good care of myself, ate right, exercised & didn’t drink or do any drugs …as my friends can attest, I don’t even like to take Tylenol…so again…I didn’t think we had anything to worry about.
5 months into being married we got pregnant without even trying.
When I called for my ob apt., I didn’t know to tell the dr. I was, now 38, at this point, and what they like to refer to as “high risk”. I just told them I was late & got a positive pregnancy test.
I had all the symptoms & cravings as I was waiting for my apt. We told our families, got excited & fell in love with the little idea of our brand new babydahl to come…even bought clothes.
About 2 weeks later I started to bleed. Went to the emergency room and they told me that I had a “chemical pregnancy”. Devastating. Heartbreaking. Numb.
That was our first loss.
I had never heard of that term before so of course I started googling everything.
I haven’t stop googling since.
Me: Age was not on my side of course, but all numbers, follicle counts, blood work was normal. Had a HSG procedure done to “check the tubes”…they were clear. Possibly low progesterone.
All anti bodies (things the woman may have in her body to reject spermies) came back negative.
Husbee: Sperm count & morphology = great! Motility 18% which could’ve been due to an antibiotic cycle & stress at work.
Put him on Fertile Aid vitamins & about 3 & 6 months later the next sperm analysis’ came back perfect!
My OBGYN didn’t suggest a fertility specialist or any additional fertility testing at this point.
We were suffering from unexplained infertility.
So we chalked it up to age & not being in the same place at the right time due to tons of traveling for work & most importantly…it wasn’t God’s timing.
THE PRIVATE STRUGGLE
Two more years of “trying naturally” was hard and at times…heart wrenching.
Every negative test, every tear, every month I would cry when my period would come. Eventually after time I was falling in the low ovarian reserve category & was then pushed to consider donor eggs. Every time I felt less of a woman not being able to give my husband a baby & family that he deserves. Every time I felt like I couldn’t do the one thing I felt with all my heart that I was put on this earth to do. Every time I heard my friends or family were pregnant…of course I would be ecstatic for them & truly happy…but there was always that moment after I felt happy for them, that I felt… “sad for me”. Heartbroken for what I didn’t have.
We heard …
“Just relax…it will happen”
“It happens when you stop trying”
“Have you ever thought about donor eggs or adoption”
You may think those “kind” of words are kind…but they are like daggers in your heart when you are suffering from infertility.
Don’t ever tell a person to relax and “let it happen” or “it will happen when you stop trying” – like when your cousin’s, friend’s, niece’s, wife’s, sister’s, co-worker couldn’t get pregnant for 6 months, & when she stopped trying – boom, it happened! Well, that’s not how it happens for most and that only implies that the infertility I’m suffering from is somehow my fault for trying too hard or stressing too much.
And certainly don’t suggest donor eggs or adoption! That may be something we are considering or will consider…but it could also be something that makes me feel like even contemplating it, I’m giving up on my own baby. Every time someone suggested that after my miscarriage…I cried.
And the worst…don’t complain to me about something I’m praying so hard for!
I’d give anything to be in your shoes & “not be able to see your shoes, lay on your pregnancy pillow, have your headaches & back aches, go to your OB appointments, experience your morning sickness…be uncomfortable because my baby is growing inside me! Think before you talk.
Just say “I’m sorry you are going through this”. Because unless you’ve been through it…you have no idea.
OUR FIRST FERTILITY TREATMENT
Three years of praying really hard & trying naturally…just using the Clear Blue ovulation predictor that my best friend bought me…brought us to May 2017.
I was 41. From everything I’ve learned along the way…it was “now or never” because at 42…your chances of having a viable, full term pregnancy dramatically drops from 41. So we finally came to terms with IUI.
We went to Nashville Fertility Center.
Low AMH 0.03 (doctor suggested donor eggs because they said the chances of getting pregnant with my own were extremely slim)
Meds: 100 mg clomid day 3-7
200mg progesterone supplement starting 2-3 DPO (days past ovulation)
3 follicles 16mm,18.5mm & 19.5 mm day of trigger
Uterine lining: 8.0 thickness – trilayer
Husbee’s spermies: Count : 66 million pre wash / 27 million post wash
41% motile / 27% non progressive motility / 32% immotile / 76% Morphology
It worked the first time.
We were pregnant!
We couldn’t believe it! Trying for over 3 years and finally…it happened.
I finally saw those 2 pink lines. My heart exploded with happiness & excitement.
Though every dr apt was nerve racking to see if the blood work was coming back good and HCG was doubling…well it WAS! We were given our 6 week ultrasound apt and told…”we’ll know more then”. I continued to take my supplements, prenatal & eat fertility friendly foods. I also continued to get blood work every other day to see if my HCG (pregnancy hormone level) was “doubling”. At times it was almost tripling! Twins perhaps? We of course were over the moon but couldn’t get too excited because of what we had already been through. God had answered our many prayers. We went in for our 6 week ultrasound to hopefully hear a heartbeat and see a baby. I can’t tell you the relief, joy, happiness and bliss it was to see a baby in there…in the right place…and the right size. And then…to hear the heartbeat…
Wow, you guys, I have to stop right there and tell y’all how I’m feeling writing this. I haven’t opened up and wrote this down ever! It’s been over a year now & it still brings tears to my eyes to even think about this.
Well, we heard the heartbeat & were in heaven. We spoke to our fertility specialist who assured us with the consistent growth, these numbers, the blood work & heartbeat …we only had a 3-5% chance of miscarriage. We were so happy. We were sent home with our ultrasound pic “baby’s first photo” and told to come back in 2 weeks for our 2 month ultrasound.
We were picking out names, buying clothes, celebrating mothers & father’s day…our mom & pops Dahl even sent us baby clothes from when Braden was a baby. We were blissful. But nothing could’ve prepared us for the heartbreak to come.
OUR SECOND LOSS
About a week before my 2 month apt…I started bleeding. It was Sunday so I went to the emergency room. We were so scared, but the ultrasound showed the baby still there & the heartbeat still in tact. We were so relieved. But I did have a subchorionic tear & that’s what caused the bleeding. The dr said many pregnancies go on and this should heal up on its own, and to stay off my feet. So many emotions, such a rollercoaster.
When we went in for my 8 week ultrasound, I laid there, holding my husbands hand like I always do, waiting for the nurse to speak…this was the longest ever she’d not made so much as a sound…I started to panic. She finally said the most heartbreaking words I’ve ever heard…”I’m sorry you guys, there is no heartbeat anymore”
I lost it. I closed my eyes so tight, tears falling down my face and my husband held me & we just ached. I wasn’t able to move off that table for 30 minutes. I finally got myself together and they wanted to schedule a DNC (a procedure that gets the baby out) immediately …I didn’t want that for so many reasons…mainly because I was in denial. I had read so many blogs, chat rooms & mommy to be boards talking about how they couldn’t hear the heartbeat at the 8 week ultrasound and dr’s told them they lost the baby & to have a DNC the next day…they waited and went to a different doctor who found it a week later…I was hoping & praying so hard that was going to be me too. I didn’t believe our baby was gone. I had a 2nd, 3rd & 4th opinion over the next 2 weeks… all confirming a miscarriage…or as they called it…”spontaneous abortion” to make matters worse. I was beside myself all over again after every ultrasound. They kept pushing this procedure on me, but I just didn’t want to go through that. Not to mention, it could cause scar tissue that makes it even harder to get pregnant the next time…and I didn’t want to take that chance so I told them I wanted to do it “naturally”. I had no idea what I was in for.
We prayed hard, talked to our priest…did everything we could think of to get through. Weeks passed and nothing. No bleeding. No loss. It was very traumatic to walk around knowing what I was carrying inside me. I drank red raspberry tea & did everything naturally I could do to help the process…which felt so foreign…so wrong to me. Finally, over a month later, I had a bleed with had a large clot…which I thought was the baby. My husband was in California & I was in Tennessee.
I mourned the loss all over again.
I laid down and didn’t feel right all day. I had dull cramps. I googled what the loss would feel like and they said I’d have cramps so I didn’t think anything of it.
MISCARRYING (Trigger Alert – TMI)
They got worse and worse throughout the night and I was on my 4th tylenol…and trust me …that would normally knock me out! (I normally don’t even take a whole one.) It didn’t even touch the pain I was feeling. I was laying in bed with my knees up and feeling the most horrible pains I’ve ever felt coming closer and closer together and I didn’t understand why this was happening and thought something was really wrong. I had to go sit on the toilet because the pain was so excruciating. Crying & scared, I was on the phone with my husband & he told me he was going to call doctor to see if I could take something stronger …and then boom. I felt something huge fall out of me into the toilet…and I knew…that was the baby & the sack. The physical pain immediately went away…but I felt the emotional pain all over again. I, of course, crumbled. Those were contractions I was feeling & what I went through was a like a small form of “labor”. I was by myself and my husband jumped on a red eye and was home in 5 hours. He took care of me. I can’t even begin to go into what a rock he was for us throughout that whole experience. I couldn’t have made it through without him. If there is one good thing to come from this pain, it is this: I thought we were close before…but this bonded us together in only a way that only someone who has gone this this could understand. Our unbreakable bond grew so much stronger going through that together. Our strong faith in God grew deeper as well.
But it didn’t end there, the nightmare continued as I had retained tissue. The doctors were still trying to get me to do the DNC …after ALL that. I refused & still tried naturally. I continued naturally and thank God…it finally all cleared. It took over 4 months from the actual loss for me to finally be cleared to “try again”. 6 months total. The only reason for the miscarriage they offered was it was most likely a chromosomal abnormality or the placenta being damage from the subchorionic tear. It was completely heartbreaking either way.
Meds: 100 mg clomid day 3-7
Stats day of trigger:
3 follicles 20 mm, 20 mm 14 mm day of trigger
Lining 6.4 – trilayer
Husbees situation: A record breaking count of 641.7 million / 436.4 post wash
Progressive Motility 68% / Non progressive motility 9% / Immotile 23% / Morphology 68%
Despite his great numbers & 2 mature follicles… BFN (big fat negative)
OUR IVF JOURNEY
Then we spent the next 6 months living apart while changed jobs & started work across the country in California & he commuted back home to Tennessee every weekend while I stayed back and took care of our new home we just bought & the remodel we were going through. It was stressful to say the least.
We were finally on the same coast consistently in September…and that’s when we said we have to try IVF…we were told it’s our only hope. We prayed so hard to God for the right answer and finally came to terms with trying it.
I was scared to death of the injectable medication. It just felt wrong. I cried after every needle for the first week.
But as crazy as this sounds…I was most scared of the birth control. I’ve never been on them in my whole life and I heard about horrible side effects & them being very bad for you…not to mention…it felt super counter productive.
Dr. Acacio – Acacio Fertility – Laguna Niguel, CA
We were also prompted to run all fertility testing & carrier screening tests imaginable to make sure there wasn’t an underlying issue for reoccurring loss before we were given our protocol. There weren’t any issues on either side.
Protocol: EPP Estrogen Priming Protocol / Agonist -Antagonist (yep…we went straight to the big guns)
8/10 start cycle
8/13 start BCP (Birth Control Pills – Low Dose)
8/16 start Lupron 10 mg
8/20 stop BCP (last day)/ decrease Lupron 5 mg
8/23 start period
8/24 stop Lupron (last day)
8/25 start Cetrotide 50 & 1st shot of EV2 .02
8/29 2nd shot of EV2
8/31 start gonal F 450
9/2 gonal F decrease 225
9/4 start menopur 75
9/15 stop gonal F & menopur (last day)
9/16 stop cetrotide (last day) start Z pack
& Pregnyl trigger shot 10k
9/17 shot free day !
9/18 egg retrieval
Retrieved 1 egg!
Day 1: ICSI Fertilized
Day 3: 4 cell – grade 1
Day 4: 5 cell
Day 5: 6 cell fragmented, changing colors and dying off
Day 6: 6/ 7 cell arrested development – discarded
Baseline Follicle Count: 8 antral follicles
CD10 : The right ovary, 8mm follicle started to dominant the rest – the others stayed small
(we obviously were devastated as this is what I do on my own without 8k in meds. We thought about cancelling the cycle & then we prayed about it & felt we needed to go for it as it only takes one & who knows what I’ll have next month. So we pressed on with more meds, more money, more emotional turmoil)
CD13: 11.5 mm follicle
CD 15: 14 mm follicle
CD 17: 16 mm follicle
It was growing. That was a good sign.
CD 18: 17.5
(we were told to go home, continue meds that night & trigger the next day & egg retrieval would be 36 hours after that.
Had the egg retrieval & got the 1 egg! It was mature & looked good.
Husbands stats: great numbers again – no issues whatsoever. #superswimmers as I like to call em.
We did ICSI (A procedure that takes the best swimmer (by the embryologists eye) & shoots it into the mature egg) Then starts the waiting game. We waited anxiously for the call the next day to find out if the egg fertilized. It did! We made it through another major hoopp as 50% don’t. The next phone call we got was day 3 and they like to see the embryo at at least 7-8 cells…ours was only at 4 cells, but grade 1 …which is the best quality. So we still had hope. By day 5 (the day they’d like to see it the embie make it to blastocyst stage… they could tell it wasn’t going to go anywhere…and we lost it in the next couple days.
We did back to back cycles and are currently on our IVF #2 (no suppression drugs because I thought I was over-suppressed the first cycle)
Baseline Follicle Count: 6-8
CD 5-9 Clomid
CD 5-6 Gonal F 600 iu
CD 7-15 (10/14) Gonal F 300 iu
Yesterday’s ultrasound showed one dominant follicle, again, taking over. The doctor suggested cancelling the cycle. We are devastated, defeated & numb. We just looked at eachother & said “Let it go & give it to God.” We decided to try naturally this month and pray about what we should do next month.
It has been a 4 year struggle with infertility now. During all the let downs & disappointment…it’s hard to imagine how this will help us appreciate anything. We just have to keep our hearts focused on Him & know this struggle is just a part of our beautiful story. That one day we will see His promise unfold when we see our baby’s face & we will know right then “it was all worth it”. I just have to thank God every day for these struggles to help me appreciate His plan for us. This process made us stronger together, grow closer to God together, and not take anything for granted ever again. And if God blesses us with a baby…we will know that every single thing that has brought us to that point was to help us appreciate it that much more. Every heartbreak, loss, lesson, financial burden, pain, needle, hurdle, obstacle, doctor apt, fertility treatment, blood draw, bad news, good news, negative test & tear will be “worth the wait” when we hold our little babydahl in our arms…and if that’s His will…it will be done!
BLOOPERS: (…and TMI PSA 😉
If you stuck around and read our whole story…you deserve one you won’t want to miss.
The first time my husband gave me the shot that goes in my fanny packer …I farted in his face. Yep. Let me frame this up. This is a man who still after 5 years won’t acknowledge the fact that I go #2. “Girls don’t do that” is what he says. I have never, unless unconscious or comatosed, made any noise out of that section of my body in front of him. He doesn’t normally threaten divorce…but if he did…it would be because of me talking about doo doo or the farts. So he bends down behind me (face level with my ass) to prep the spot for my shot. I’m a nervous wreck and any of my girls out there reading this & have gone through IVF or injectables, know that needle is no joke! The second he sticks it in, I let out a one out…right in his face…and to put the cherry on top of this shit sunday…his mouth was open. I farted in his mouth. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I thought…this is it…we’ve made it through 2 miscarriages, 2 remodels, 2 moves across the country, & a cross country road trip ….but this is how we end. And even though I thought it was over & I was mentally preparing myself for my inevitable breakdown, the 5 year old in me lost complete control and I almost peed my pants laughing so hard. We both couldn’t stop laughing. We bonded on another level that day 😉
Thank you for listening to my story. After 42 days of injectable stimulation medication, 35 days of injectable suppression medications including birth control for the first time in my life, headaches, side effects, mood swings, tantrums, too many black & blue’s from all the needles totalling up to well over 100 shots in my belly & butt…it was all worth it if it gave you hope, helped you relate, made you laugh or more importantly…not feel alone.
Please DM me, comment here or email me your story so we can pray for each other & cheer each other on in this fertility fight we are facing! Please follow for upcoming posts:
-Fertility Questions To Ask Your Doctor for IUI & IVF
God bless y’all!